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Celebrating National Volunteer Week: Meet Dave

Celebrating National Volunteer Week: Meet Dave

I have always had a fascination with birds. When I was younger I used to look forward to early summer because it would bring these huge black birds that would let out the most unique and beautiful noise. My dad would tell me they were Carnabys and recount how when he was my age these birds would fill the sky like a giant black cloud. In the back of my mind I had a burning desire to work with these birds and see one of these giant flocks.
In 2013, having lost interest in my current line of work i decided to quit my job and study conservation. I was given the advice that i should start looking for volunteering opportunities in my first year and so i went down to the campus volunteer office. I said straight away I would like to focus my work with birds and it was suggested that i look into Kaarakin.
The moment I arrived I knew i was going to stay. The birds were more gentle and welcoming than i ever could have imagined and so much bigger up close! I never actually ended up completing the degree but I couldn’t bring myself to leave the birds.At Kaarkin I found a variety of jobs and duties to do. I started as a bird feeder but my various trade and organisational skills quickly found me extra duties to do. At Kaarakin I have done everything from repairing aviaries and buildings, sorting rescued donated fruit and veg, maintaining the gardens, general cleaning and maintenance and even acting as a supervisor. I also saw opportunities to develop and improve other skills. I started volunteering with the education program in order to become a more confident public speaker. In 2015 the aviary manager, Rachel Riley, wanted to start a specialised clinic program using existing volunteers who had an interest in learning more advanced bird husbandry skills so of course i put my hand up to be involved.

Apart from the birds my favorite thing about Kaarakin is the people. With hundreds of volunteers Kaarakin is a community in itself. Everyone here is different in so many ways, but we are all united with a mutual love and respect for the birds and a desire to preserve their species. The life experiences of the volunteers is staggering and all the interesting stories come out when you sit down for a cup of tea. At Kaarakin I have met ex military personal, nurses, teachers, paramedics, tradies, engineers, veterinarians, a pilot and an vietnam era traveling show girl! I was constantly blown away with how much such a diverse group is able to achieve with hard work and dedication.

Kaarakin has given me so many priceless memories, from being involved with an emu surgery to meeting a burlesque group, but my favourite memory will always be a Baudins release. Baudins are already special because being so rare we don’t release them very often but these birds were important because they were the first of their kind to have trackers attached to them. The site picked was in Perth hills because it was currently a roost to all three local black cockatoo species. Within minutes of releasing our small handful of birds, just before dusk, a decent sized flock of Baudins flew in to meet them. Already witnessing the largest flock of Baudins I had ever seen I was completely floored to see an even larger flock of Carnaby’s arrive a few minutes later with a huge flock of Red-tails follow behind them. This to date is the largest flock of black cockatoos i have ever seen and although it still fell short of the giant black cloud of my dreams it was profoundly special to me seeing that many of these black birds in the sky above me.

The science says that the days of giant clouds of black cockatoos are gone but i will keep on working with these birds with dream that one day they will become a regular occurence again.

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